GrowNextGen (GNG) offers curriculum in a number of subject areas including agriscience, biology/bioscience, chemistry, and environmental science, and more. All the curriculum is developed by Ohio science, chemistry and agriscience instructors, and new additions are made regularly. This article highlights two of the new units that Rachel Sanders, a science instructor at the Global Impact STEM Academy, has developed to connect science in the classroom with the real world.
“Here FIshy, Fishy”
In the “Here Fishy, Fishy” unit, students take on multiple roles within an aquaculture farm setting:
• setting up mini tank systems
• testing water quality of the tanks
• investigating possible alternative fish feed sources
• monitoring fish health and growth
“Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing animal agricultural industry, offering alternative farming in a variety of farming environments. Producers are looking for more efficient and sustainable ways to cultivate healthy species to satisfy growing market needs in a world whose population and food requirements are growing rapidly,” said Sanders.
Students are working on a real-world problem currently being investigated by universities and local fish farmers. Through this activity, they are exposed to an alternative farming experience and learn about careers involved in an aquaculture fish farm. Biology classes could use this project when studying ecology concepts, and chemistry classes could use it in conducting chemical tests to monitor water quality for fish health.
Sanders said her class conducted 4-H’s Fish Farm Challenge to understand the feeding behaviors of fish, and they completed an Engineering Design Challenge, creating a fish feeder that would evenly distribute feed to the top, middle and bottom of a fish tank. They are currently researching governmental agencies that set guidelines for water quality of fish farms, discussing potential changes to the Clean Water Act, and practicing proper water quality testing procedures.
“Can You Taste the Difference?”
In the “Can You Taste the Difference?” unit, students become food panelists to see if they can taste the difference in two fruit smoothie products and then look for a statistical significance in data collected from the taste test. Rachel Sanders conducted this unit as part of her ag biotech course “Intro to Plant and Animal Biotech” to introduce GMOs. “Instead of taste testing smoothies,” she explained, “I had them taste test GMO vs Non-GMO tortilla chips to see if they could identify a taste difference. This year I plan to use this unit in my Food Science course to practice for the FFA Food Science CDE.”
Sanders doesn’t just create content for GrowNextGen, she also uses it in her classroom. Sanders finds the GNG website invaluable in locating resources to use in her classroom: “I go to GrowNextGen when I need to search for a lab activity or a career video. I have also had students check out the video courses for blizzard bag activities or waiver meeting days in order to stay connected and productive,” said Sanders. She noted it is also helpful to see what workshops are available.
“Being able to check out the lab units is the greatest resource for me, though. The units provide background info and lab activities that I can use entirely or take out and tweak into components that will fit into my courses,” she said. Sanders encouraged teachers to visit the GNG website so they can bring real-world research and project ideas into their classrooms. “The units that are posted on the website have been developed by educators who are trying to connect students with true college and career experiences.”
Go to www.grownextgen.org to learn more about the materials and resources that are helping to connect teachers and their students to Ohio soybeans and agriculture.